Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement plans both provide valuable coverage and protect you financially from substantial medical debt. Medicare Advantage plans continue to grow in popularity, with nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries participating in a Medicare Advantage plan. With Medicare annual enrollment just around the corner, I want to point out some of the benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan.
> Medicare Advantage plans cap your annual out-of-pocket expenses. With Medicare alone, there is no limit as to how high your out-of-pocket costs can go in any given year. A serious illness or injury could easily leave you owing $10,000 or $20,000 in medical expenses out of your own pocket.
The maximum annual out-of-pocket allowed by a Medicare Advantage plan is $6,700 per year; however, many plans offer out-of-pockets limits of less than $3,400 per year. Better yet, some of these plans are offered at zero premiums!
What does it mean to meet your out-of-pocket limit? Once you have paid medical expenses out of your own pocket totalling the out-of-pocket limit set by your plan, your Medicare Advantage plan will pay all of your medical expenses for the remainder of the year at 100 percent.
> Most plans are available at low or zero premiums. We certainly can’t deny price! Medicare Advantage plans are quite affordable to say the least. While Medicare supplement plans can run several hundred dollars per month, most Medicare Advantage plans have low or zero premiums – you just continue paying your Part B premium.
> Prescription coverage is included. Not only do you save on premiums in general with a Medicare Advantage plan, but with most plans you also have prescription coverage at no additional cost! You’ll want to review your plan’s formulary to ensure any medications you take on a regular basis are covered under your plan.
> Some plans offer additional coverage including vision, dental, and hearing. These are benefits you won’t find with original Medicare or any Medicare supplement plan. Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer these benefits, so you’ll want to do your research before selecting a plan, or check with your MediGap Advisors’ Personal Advisor.
> A recent article in Health Affairs revealed that Medicare Advantage plan members are more likely to undergo preventive care screenings than non-Medicare Advantage Medicare beneficiaries. Because many members have primary care physicians acting as gatekeepers, and due to high quality-of-care measures instituted by Medicare Advantage plans, physicians and members are held to a higher level of accountability.
Medicare’s annual enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. It’s important that you schedule a time to meet with your Personal Advisor to ensure you remain in the best plan available during 2015. You can learn more about annual enrollment by reading my previous blog, Understanding Your Options During Medicare’s 2014 Annual Enrollment Period.
Do you have any questions about Medicare Advantage plans? Are you considering switching to a Medicare Advantage Plan? What other questions can we answer for you about Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period?
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.